Conference of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities: Enhancing Undergraduate Environmental Education in the Hudson Valley: Expositions and Connections.
Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Boylan, J. and Y. Kang. 2004. Population ecology of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in Westchester County, New York.
Butterfly weed is a milkweed plant known for its bright orange-colored flowers, its ability to attract butterflies as a food source, and its production of secondary metabolites that have been used as traditional medicines. Unfortunately, native stands of the plants are disappearing in New York State such that the plant is now protected under New York State law. In light of the rapid disappearance of wild butterfly weed in New York State, a research project involving undergraduate students was started at Iona College in conjunction with Alison Beahl of the Westchester County Parks Department to gain a better understanding of the butterfly weeds’ growth, reproductive habits, distribution, and genetic diversity. The research is composed of a field component, where a survey of the plant’s distribution has been conducted at Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, NY; it also has a laboratory component, where genetic analysis has been performed on leaf samples of butterfly weed from Marshlands Conservancy and from other areas of Westchester County. The results from the project (which is on-going) are presented here.